- "All my life men like you've sneered at me, and all my life I've been knocking men like you into the dust."
- ―Brienne to Jaime Lannister
Brienne of Tarth is a recurring character in the second and third seasons. She is played by Gwendoline Christie and debuts in "What is Dead May Never Die." She is a warrior of House Tarth, vassals to House Baratheon. After winning a tournament melee, she is made a member of King Renly Baratheon's new Kingsguard, shortly before his assassination. She becomes the sworn sword of Catelyn Stark and vows to avenge Renly's death. She is charged by Catelyn Stark to return Jaime Lannister to King's Landing, in an attempt to exchange him for her two daughters she believes are held hostage there.
Brienne is the sole surviving child and heir of Lord Selwyn Tarth of Evenfall Hall, on the island of Tarth, located in the Narrow Sea off the coast of the Stormlands. She is unusually tall and muscular for a woman by Westerosi standards and developed a taste for martial activity as a child. Brienne has grown up to become skilled at arms and dreams of becoming a knight.
Brienne's mother died when she was so young that she doesn't remember her. As the sole heir of House Tarth, she posed a fairly promising marriage prospect for men from other noble Houses, but due to her physicality and personality has never seriously pursued a marriage alliance with another House.
She is also called The Maid of Tarth, or, disparagingly, Brienne the Beauty, due to her appearance.
Brienne joins the forces of King Renly Baratheon in the War of the Five Kings. She proves herself by winning a tournament amongst his men and asks to be named to his Kingsguard as a reward. Renly grants her request despite her gender and consequent lack of knighthood. Lady Catelyn Stark arrives in the camp to negotiate an alliance between Renly and her son, King Robb Stark. Brienne takes offense when Lady Catelyn doesn't refer to Renly as "Your Grace", and later, escorts her and Renly through the camp as they talk. She tells Catelyn just to call her Brienne, as despite her birth, she doesn't consider herself a "Lady".
Lord Petyr Baelish also visits Renly's camp, as envoy from King Joffrey Baratheon. Renly tells Petyr that he does not trust him and cites Brienne as having true loyalty. This mistrust seems well founded as Petyr offers to open the gates of King’s Landing to Renly. While in camp he also proposes that Catelyn exchange Robb's captive Ser Jaime Lannister for her daughters. Brienne also guards Renly during an unsuccessful meeting with his brother King Stannis Baratheon. Stannis threatens Renly for refusing to swear fealty to him. Renly is assassinated by a Shadow while Brienne is guarding him. He is talking to Lady Catelyn, agreeing to recognize Robb Stark as King in the North, as long as Robb gives him fealty as an overlord and recognizes his claim to the Iron Throne. Brienne is arming him for his coming battle with Stannis when the flap of the tent flutters like wind has raised it, then Melisandre's Shadow-creature materializes to stab Renly in the back, running him through. Brienne is devastated at witnessing the death, but recognizes that the Shadow had the likeness of Stannis. She cries out and catches him as he falls, getting his blood all over herself. When two other members of Renly's Kingsguard who guard the tent rush in, they blame Brienne for the death and attack her. She is forced to kill Sers Robar Royce and Emmon Cuy, and Catelyn convinces her to flee the camp, as she cannot avenge Renly if she is dead herself.
Brienne swears an oath of fealty to Catelyn, becoming her sworn sword. They travel back to Robb's camp in the Westerlands. Catelyn is devastated by news that her home Winterfell has been captured by the turncloak Theon Greyjoy and her sons made his captives. Robb, still in the midst of fighting for the Riverlands, plans to send word to a vassal in the North, the bastard of one of his commanders Roose Bolton , to free them and leaves to negotiate the surrender of the Crag.
Jaime escapes captivity, killing Torrhen Karstark in the attempt. He is soon recaptured, but Torrhen's father Lord Rickard Karstark demands his head in vengeance. Brienne guards Catelyn as she convinces Rickard to await Robb's return. As the hours until daylight stretch before them, the Karstarks are getting more violent and agitated, calling for Jaime Lannister's death. As it would be death to try to defend him, Brienne tells Catelyn that at this rate Jaime will not live enough for Robb to return. Catelyn decides to free Jaime in an attempt to exchange him for her two daughters who she believes are both being held hostage in King's Landing by the Lannisters. She orders Brienne to smuggle Jaime from the camp and deliver him to King's Landing in order to secure the safety of her daughters. Brienne travels by horse until finding a rowboat to evade pursuit. She suffers the constant antagonism of her captive as he taunts her about her appearance and her likely dismal history with the opposite sex.
When they come upon a tree with the hanging corpses of three tavern girls who have been killed by Stark forces for having relations with Lannister men, Jaime confronts her with the atrocity committed by "her side". Brienne reminds him that she is sworn to Lady Catelyn, not the Starks. Despite their need to continue, Brienne determines to give the women a decent burial and is going to cut them down, when three of the Northern soldiers who killed the women return. Jaime tries to get her to remove his chains so he can defend them, Brienne ignores him. She tells the men that she is escorting a prisoner back to Riverrun for justice. Jaime improvises that he is in chains for stealing a pig. Realizing that Brienne is a woman the Stark soldiers laugh uncontrollably. Brienne suffers it in silence, and at this even Jaime seems sympathetic towards her over this rude treatment. She deflects the men's amusement by asking about the dead women, asking if they were given a quick death, and is told two of them were. When one of the men recognizes Jaime from the Battle of the Whispering Wood, Brienne must fight and kill them, impressing Ser Jaime. She then returns to the task of cutting down and burying the tavern girls.
Jaime continue's to be escorted by Brienne to King's Landing. On their way there, they are spotted by a traveler. Jaime urges Brienne to kill the travel, since he believes the man recognised him and will give away their whereabouts, but she refuses.
Later, the pair have to cross a river, which means they can either attempt a dangerous fording or take the bridge, which will probably be watched. Brienne takes the safer route of the bridge, but Jaime manages to distract her long enough to take away her spare sword and cut his bonds. Brienne and Jaime enter into an extended sword fight on the bridge. Jaime, one of the most skilled swordsmen in all of Westeros, nearly overcomes Brienne several times. However, Jaime's mobility is reduced because his hands are still manacled, and he is malnourished after having spent the past full year chained up in a cell. Jaime begins to tire, and Brienne wears him down further by making simple body-blows with kicks and punches. After a protracted fight Jaime finally slumps to the ground in exhaustion. Just then, riders from House Bolton arrive led by a man named Locke. Jaime asks if they want to negotiate, but Locke says they'll have his head if he doesn't bring the Kingslayer back to the King in the North, so there's not much Jaime can do to dissuade him from taking them prisoner.
Brienne and Jaime were taken captive by Locke and a detachment of men from House Bolton. As they ride along, the men sing a rousing chorus of The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Tied up back to back on one of the horses, Jaime warns Brienne that when they make camp for the night, they will rape her, more than once, and that his honest advice is to give no resistance, and just think of Renly. They were only sent to capture Jaime, therefore Brienne means nothing to them, so at the slightest provocation they will kill her without hesitation. Brienne says she will fight even if they kill her, and Jaime agrees that if he were a woman, he would fight to the death before being raped too.
Later that night Locke's men make camp, and do indeed drag Brienne kicking and screaming into the bushes to gang-rape her. Jaime is disgusted by this pointless brutality, so he points out to Locke that Brienne is actually a noblewoman and the sole heir of Lord Selwyn of Tarth, the "Sapphire Isle", and her father will pay them a ransom of her weight in sapphires - provided that she is unharmed. Locke agrees and calls his men back before they are able to rape Brienne, and they tie her up to a tree again.
Without his sword hand, Jaime has lost the will to live, but Brienne taunts him that he cannot take it when life gets real. Although he does not reply when she asks him why he helped her escape rape, he does not reply, but starts eating.
After both are delivered to Harrenhal where Jaime's infected stump is treated, both share an intimate moment at the communal bath. Jaime first mocks Brienne, saying she was unable to protect Renly. Brienne stands up defiantly and Jaime apologizes to her. He begins to confess what really happened when he killed the Mad King. Collapsing into her arms, she calls aid for the Kingslayer, at which he whimpers to himself that his name is Jaime.
Although Lord Bolton intends to send Jaime to King's Landing, he decides to keep Brienne in Harrenhal, for abetting treason. Jaime tries to protest, but Lord Bolton says he is in no position to make demands. Lord Bolton departs for Robb Stark's wedding, and gives Brienne to Locke. Locke attempts to ransom Brienne to her father, who offers 300 Gold dragons in exchange for her return. Locke, who had been lead to believe Brienne's father owned all the sapphire mines in Westeros by Jaime, believed he was being cheated. Instead of accepting the ransom, he throws her into a gladiatorial pit with a bear, giving her nothing but a wooden sword to defend herself. After hearing that Brienne had been left to Locke's mercy at Harrenhal, Jaime and his escorts return. Jaime jumps into the pit to aid her, and with the help of Steelshanks who is bound by his duty to ensure Jaime arrives in King's Landing safely, the two of them manage to escape the pit. Locke is outraged, but Jaime once again demands Brienne accompany him, asking him whether he believes that Lord Bolton would care more about his amusement or about Jaime arriving safely in King's Landing. Locke relents, and Brienne and Jaime depart together. Jaime and Brienne arrive at the gates of the Red Keep. Brienne smiles at Jaime, assuring him, after a peasant calls Jaime a "country boy".
|Season Two appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
- "I'm no Lady"
- "You need trust to have a truce"
Behind the scenes
For her role as Brienne, Christie extensively trained to get into the right physical condition, as well as cutting off her long hair and reading all of the available novels to study her character's development in detail. She has said that Brienne is very different from own personality and style. As a trained dancer and photography model, she favors heels and lots of make-up. In her interview with SFX magazine she talks about the way fans made her aware of the part. She found her name posted on a website as the one who should play Brienne, and then when she asked her agent about this part, he had already been emailed by another fan informing him of it.
Many actresses auditioned, and Gwendolyn Christie came dressed and in character. According to author George R.R. Martin, "This was another one of those cases where there was hardly any debate. The day the first batch of auditions went up for the role, we looked at a dozen actresses who were reading for Brienne, and one actress who WAS Brienne."
All died in infancy
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Brienne is considered ugly and ungainly, but is immensely skilled at combat. She is taller and stronger than many men, and her father and his head of household guards have trained her for many years in the arts of combat. Some people consider her a freak, whilst other men hope to marry her to inherit her father's wealthy lands. For her part, Brienne yearns for respect, acceptance and a chance to prove her valor in a worthy cause.
Brienne is described as homely: her hair is a squirrel's nest of dirty straw; her features are broad and coarse; her teeth are prominent and crooked; her mouth is too wide; her lips are so plump they seemed swollen; a thousand freckles speckle her cheeks and brow; and her nose had been broken more than once. Her only lovely feature is her eyes, large and very blue, trusting and guileless. Very few people (Renly, Cortnay Penrose, Catelyn and Jaime) see beyond her ugliness and realize what honest, decent and honorable she is.
Brienne is the oldest daughter of Lord Selwyn of Tarth. She had two younger sisters but they both died in the cradle. She had an older brother named Galladon, but he drowned when she was eight years old, leaving her as Selwyn's only surviving child and heir. She has been engaged to marry three times (contracts made by her father, none of which ended well).
The books don't make specific mention of her mother: in the TV series she says that she never knew her, implying that she died when Brienne was very young. Brienne has a good relationship with her father and describes him as a good man. She notes that (since her mother died) he is in a relationship with a new female romantic interest every year or so.
According to author George R.R. Martin, Brienne in the books is supposed to be unusually tall and muscular for a woman, but not freakishly so. She is above six feet tall but not near seven feet (i.e. actress Gwendoline Christie matches this at 6 feet 3 inches). She is taller than Jaime Lannister or Renly Baratheon, and significantly more heavyset. Still, she is not quite as tall as either Greatjon Umber or Sandor Clegane (i.e. Rory McCann, who plays the latter is 6'6).
There is widespread speculation that Brienne of Tarth is a descendant of the famous knight Duncan the Tall, who eventually rose to be Lord Commander of the Kingsguard under his friend King Aegon V Targaryen. Ser Duncan ("Dunk") and Aegon "Egg" Targaryen are the two main characters in the "Tales of Dunk and Egg" prequel novellas, which start about 90 years before Game of Thrones begins. George R.R. Martinhas stated that, with time-jumps in between each story, he intends for the prequel novellas to cover the entire lives of Dunk and Egg, up until about 50 years ago. There are three pieces of evidence that Brienne might be Duncan's descendant. First, Martin actually said that a descendant of Duncan would appear in the fourth novel, but he never indicated who it was. Second, during the fourth novel, Brienne mentions in passing while selecting a new shield that she recalls an old shield from her youth which was present in her family's armory at Evenfall Hall, and the description she gives matches Ser Duncan's personal sigil (a green shooting star over a green elm tree, on a sunset-orange field). Third, though most general, is that "Ser Duncan the Tall" was famously a very tell man, nearly seven feet in height, and Brienne is unusually tall for a woman by Westerosi standards. There is also speculation that Hodor may be a descendant of Ser Duncan, as Hodor is also extremely tall, over seven feet in height, and the upcoming fourth prequel novella, The She-Wolves of Winterfell, reveals that Ser Duncan traveled to Winterfell. At one point Bran Stark has a greensight vision of the past, and sees a very large man "as tall as Hodor" in the Winterfell godswood, being kissed by a slender young woman - who might have been Old Nan.
She first met Renly when he came to Tarth to see her father who was his bannerman. He treated her with courtesy and respect. He danced with her, and she has been in love with him ever since. Lady Catelyn realizes this the first time she sees Brienne looking at Renly (down at him, as she stands a half-hand taller than him). Brienne always tries to be at Renly's side. She offers to guard him the night before the battle, but Renly says no as he and Loras are going to "pray together privately". He accepts her offer to come before dawn to arm him for the battle, others who hear this snicker, and Lady Catelyn thinks it sad that she is thought of as a joke, because she acts the part of a squire and dresses him just to have the opportunity to touch him.
According to Loras, Renly thought that Brienne was absurd - a woman dressed in man's mail, pretending to be a knight. Yet he kept her close, because all his other knights wanted things of him, castles or honors or riches, but all that Brienne wanted was to die for him.
When Brienne joined Renly's army, he greeted her courteously and welcomed her to his service. She expected the other knights to treat her with coldness and mockery, but to her surprise many of them were exceedingly kind to her, going above and beyond the others to win her favor, except Randyll Tarly who was openly hostile toward her. Brienne was confused and suspicious to be treated so warmly. The mystery was solved when Dickon Tarly overheard by chance four knights talking about a wager that three of the soldiers put on the first who could claim Brienne's maidenhead, and many others joined the contest. Dickon told his father, and Randyll put an end to the wager, knowing that some of the challengers were less honorable than others, and it was only a matter of time before one of them decided to claim the prize by force. He told Brienne about the wager, bluntly claiming it was her fault. Brienne was deeply offended, and said that she came to fight and never did anything to encourage those knights. Randyll was not appeased, and told her that her presence alone encouraged them because a war host is no place for a maiden.
Brienne always presents herself or is announced as "Brienne of Tarth", and never "Brienne Tarth", which would also be correct. The reason for this naming preference is not known.
- Brienne of Tarth at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
- ↑ HBO viewer's guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Baratheon of Storm's End - Brienne entry
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "What is Dead May Never Die"
- ↑ "Garden of Bones"
- ↑ "The Old Gods and the New"
- ↑ "A Man Without Honor"
- ↑ "The Prince of Winterfell"
- ↑ "Valar Morghulis"
- ↑ "Walk of Punishment"
- ↑ "And Now His Watch is Ended"
- ↑ "Kissed by Fire"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ "Mhysa"
- ↑ SFX Magazine
- ↑ GRRM's blog
|Lord:||Lord Selwyn Tarth||Heir:||Brienne of Tarth|
|Title(s):||Lord of Evenfall Hall|
|Lord:||Edmure Tully||Heir:||Bran Stark|
|Title(s):||Lord Paramount of the Riverlands · Lord of Riverrun|
|Current members:||Brynden Tully · Roslin Tully|
|Deceased members:||Catelyn Stark · Hoster Tully · Minisa Tully · Lysa Arryn|
|Household:||Brienne of Tarth|